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6 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Organic outlets fresh lease of life amid pesticide menace

TAREQUE MORETAZA
Organic outlets fresh lease of life amid pesticide menace

Only a small fraction of the urban population prefer organic food, which, albeit being cultivated increasingly, forms only 1 per cent of the total agricultural produce.  

“Cultivation and consumption of organic food have definitely increased. But the production of organic food hasn't increased by more than 1 per cent. A major portion of our food is contaminated by chemicals,” said Gulam Rabanni, the organiser of UBINIG.

Some organisations, including UBINIG, Nayakrishi Andolon and Prakritik Krishi Biponon Kendra, have been producing organic food across the country.  Prakritik Krishi Biponon Kendra started its journey on October 24, 2014, in Dhaka on an experimental basis. It primarily started selling hormone- and chemical-free crops from 9am on every Friday and Saturday.

It aims to achieve a transparent and equitable marketing system by encouraging and expanding the production of safe food. This goal is reached by ensuring profitable prices for crops produced by farmers, said Delowar Jahan, the founder the group.  

Farmers from Manikganj, Jhenidah, Narayanganj, Tangail and Naogaon districts have been producing crops without pesticides. A market called "Prakritik Krishi Biponon Centre" has been opened at Mohammadpur’s Salimullah Road so that these farmers can sell their produce. Apart from this, another outlet of the centre has been opened at Green Road in the capital.

However, some consumers complain that prices of organic food are too high. Afia Rahman, a housewife, says that prices of these food products are high and not everyone can afford them.

Farida Akhter, executive director of UBINIG, told The Independent that the

prices are generally determined after adjusting the cost of production. "It's inappropriate to say that the prices of organic products are too high compared to other products," she said.

"To promote a health-related food culture and to encourage biodiversity, UBINIG is conducting this agricultural movement. If everyone produces their own food, poison-free vegetables and other food products would be available," she also said.

"We work with food diversity and its protection. But we're too small to create the demand for such food. That is why we encourage everyone to grow their own produce free of poison, chemical fertilisers and hybrid seeds," she added.

Shoshsho Probortona, an associate of UBINIG, has several outlets in Banani and Mohammadpur to sell organic food. Red rice, Aush puffed rice, wheat, rice powder, fruits, mustard oil, honey, molasses made from dates, molasses made from sugarcane, chilies, mung beans, lentils, mashkolai, varieties of rice-based products and spices are available here.

However, every product is not always available. In case of a pre-order, Shoshsho Probortona stocks the food item. Home deliveries are also made on request.

Harvest, another such organisation, also provides home deliveries. It stocks milk, sweets, vegetables, fruits, lentils, rice bran oil, honey, pickles, kalizira oil, mustard oil, medicinal herbs, local chicken eggs, curd, spices, brown sugar, brown wheat and red rice.

There is another outlet for organic food, Farmers Market. It is in the Gulshan Avenue area. This outlet remains open from 10am to 12 noon every Friday.

German Butcher is another such outlet in Gulshan. Organic food is sold from here every two Mondays of each month. The outlet is known for selling fresh vegetables.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, from 1984 to 2010, the use of pesticides has been reported to have increased by 4,46,246.78 metric tonnes per year on average.

Farida Akhter said farmers came into direct contact with harmful chemicals when they sprayed pesticides on crops. Their family members also got exposed to the poison. Consumers too became victims of such pesticides when they consumed such crops, she added.  

A World Health Organisation study says,  30,000,00 people are affected by the use of pesticides every year.

The Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has advised farmers to reduce the use of pesticides in crop production. In all, 13 pesticides has been banned from use, among them DDT, which is used to prepare dry fish in Bangladesh, is the most lethal.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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